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Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Makes13 sandwich cookies
  • Active time: 30 min
    Total time: 1 1/2 hr
Move over cupcakes: You've had your time in the limelight but we've moved on. Sweets are far easier to eat when the frosting is between the two thin cake layers, not on top. It all comes down to proportions: whoopie pies exemplify the perfect ratio between cake and frosting.

These pies, in particular, straddle the cake/cookie line. There's the slightest bit of crispness on the outside, which then gives way to impossibly tender cake and a perfectly balanced cream cheese filling. We bet you can't eat just one so you might as well make two batches (don't double the recipe).
Published in Gourmet Live 01.26.11

INGREDIENTS:

For Cake Rounds:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened (natural) cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 (1-ounce) bottle red food coloring (2 tablespoons)

For Filling:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar

INSTRUCTIONS:

Make Cake Rounds:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F with racks in upper and lower third. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
  • Beat butter, oil, and sugar with an electric mixer until combined well, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg, vanilla, and vinegar.
  • Reduce speed to low and alternately mix in flour and buttermilk in batches, beginning and ending with the flour until combined.
  • Add the red food coloring and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined.
  • Spoon 2 tablespoon mounds of batter 2-inches apart on lined baking sheets.
  • Bake, switching positions of baking sheets halfway through baking, until rounds are puffed and set, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Slide parchment with rounds onto wire racks to cool completely.

Make Filling:

  • Beat together cream cheese, butter, lemon juice, vanilla, salt, and sugar until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Spread about 2 tablespoons of filling on flat-side of half the rounds; top with remaining rounds, flat side down, to form whoopie pies.

COOKS’ NOTES:

  • To get perfectly round whoopie pies, use a 2 tablespoon ice cream scoop with the cake batter.
  • Store whoopie pies, chilled, in an airtight container, the layers separated between sheets of parchment paper, for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
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